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C3-C4, Physical Therapy for Shoulders

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  • C3-C4, Physical Therapy for Shoulders

    I'd appreciate any feedback from C3-C4's who after surgery, could only shrug their shoulders (and maybe wiggle their toes).

    At the LT sub-acute, my Dad has a roommate who is C3, Complete. Remarkably, he can move his shoulders very well... circular motions, up and down, forward and back...

    He told me that in the beginning, he could only move his shoulders up and down and he "learned" how to move his shoulders from a PT during rehab -- he also told me that in the beginning of the 'learning,' it really hurt. Btw, this was 17 years -- it seems that many years ago, insurance was much more generous and case managers were kinder, thus, my Dad's roomie spent over nine (9) months in two different Rehabs.

    My Dad's compression was at the juncture of C3-C4 (operation Sept 30) -- but his shoulders can only move up and down. During rehab, there wasn't any "teaching" for my Dad regarding how to move his shoulders.

    Just wondering, has anyone with a similar injury experienced "learning" or "relearning" how to move their shoulders in rehab?

  • #2
    Joey, I think there is a combination of factors going on with your dads roommate. He is 17 years post, so he might have gotten a bit of recovery, but at this point in your dads injury it is my personal belief that getting as much therapy on his arms and shoulders as he can would always be a good thing. He may very well be better able to move his arms and shoulders with therapy, and the simple range of motion will, at the very least, keep him more limber.


    • #3
      Sorry, let me clarify. My Dad's roommate was injured 17 years ago (gunshot). He initially spent 3 mos in the ICU, about 6 months in a rehab center, and then, a short time in a nursing home, before his "caring" case manager transferred him to a Southern Cal rehab center.


      • #4
        Joey, I think I understood your initial post. Your dad has only been injured about 6 months if I am correct, which is why I do believe that any therapy he can get at this point would be a good thing. It is often thought that there is about a two year window post spinal cord injury where some degree of recovery is possible (for some, not all people) and since he is very much in that window therapy of any type is adventageous, and especially to help his arms and shoulders.


        • #5
          I suspect that this roommate actually has a C5 injury, not C4. C5 innervates the deltoids and biceps, not C4. Shoulder shrug may be possible for someone with a C4 or even a C3 injury, but abduction of the shoulder requires deltoids (C5). It is not uncommon for people with SCI, even those who are long injured, to not know their true level of SCI, often from confusing their neurologic level (described by the ASIA) with their vetebral fracture level.

          The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.